UPDATE 1-Pfizer reviewing possible divestitures, exec says

Thu Mar 17, 2011 4:37pm EDT

* R&D chief aims to complete review this year

* Some analysts want break up to boost stock price (Adds stock price, performance)

NEW YORK, March 17 (Reuters) - Pfizer Inc (PFE.N) plans to complete a review this year of whether it should divest any of its businesses to maximize their value, a top executive at the drugmaker said on Thursday.

"We are going through a comprehensive review that we aim to complete during this year," said Mikael Dolsten, Pfizer's president of worldwide research and development.

Speaking at a Barclays Capital investor conference, Dolsten said Pfizer Chief Executive Ian Read has said that "we have an innovative core of our company with adjacent businesses, that each of them are doing really well.

"But we need also to understand what is the maximum value for those businesses, which of them actually have a higher value by being inside Pfizer and can benefit from the capabilities and our financial strengths, our reach in the market, and which would do better as businesses and create more value for shareholders to be outside the company," he said, according to a transcript of the event.

Dolsten's comments come after Sanford Bernstein analyst Tim Anderson said earlier this week Pfizer may spin off or sell its non-pharmaceutical divisions, including nutritionals and animal health, as well as the company's established products unit that focuses on off-patent medicines.

Anderson said in a research report the move could shrink the world's largest drugmaker's revenue base to between $35 billion and $40 billion from $67 billion.

Analysts and investors have been debating whether Read, who was named CEO in December, should break up the company to jump-start its languishing stock price. Critics say a series of mega-mergers created a bloated organization. [ID:nN16174453]

Pfizer shares rose 3 percent to close at $19.88 on Thursday, outperforming a rise for the broad market. The shares have risen nearly 19 percent since Read took over as CEO. (Reporting by Lewis Krauskopf; editing by Andre Grenon)

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